Sometimes, feel-good stories come with subtitles. Except, of course, for the fact that “Rock My Heart” is on Netflix. You can hear it in any language you desire, should the original German — with subtitles — be a turn off.
It’s a perfectly pleasant, sentimental and far-fetched story of a sickly but rebellious to the point of reckless teen, and the nervous wreck of a race horse that she bonds with. Good acting, solid if unsurprising story, and a few German touches make this would-be weeper a winner — by a nose.
Lena Klenke is Jana, a teen of 17 when we meet her, fresh off a drunken police chase on a motor scooter. She’s in the hospital because she crashed at the end of that chase. It turns out she’s got a rare congenital heart condition that’s going to kill her. That’s made her fatalistic, and dismissive of her “You need experimental surgery” parents (Annette Frier, Michael Lott).
But she’s having these dreams, or what she thinks might be dreams. She encountered a horse during her latest escapade. They connected, somehow.
Getting out of the hospital puts Jana on a bike in search of that mysterious stallion. She finds it on the failing horse farm of Paul Brenner (veteran German character actor Dieter Hallervorden). He’s about to be foreclosed on — by his own daughter (Anneke Kim Sarnau).
He sees the skittish, untrainable three year-old around Jana. He knows nothing of her situation, but he can sense she’s a tad untamable.
Maybe the untamable teen can hang around and help him calm and train the untrainable “Rock My Heart.”
Yeah, that’s “kitschig” — “corny” in German. So’s a lot of other stuff in this movie. But it kind of works.
Yes, she’s hiding her heart condition as she shows up for “work” each day. Yes, she has to learn to ride, get on the racehorse simulator that will put her through the exertion of riding a full Rhineland Derby. That’s the “big race” Paul wants to win to save the farm, with his splitting the prize money with Jana.
Because it turns out “Rock” only will let her ride him. Will Jana survive the training? Will her folks find out?
Either way, she tells them, she is NOT going to “sit around the house and wait for my heart to stop.”
There’s a love interest, the teen boy Samy (Emilio Sakraya) she met at dying kids camp last summer. She’s lukewarm on him, but he grows on her.
And director Hanno Olderdissen gives us just enough inside-horse-racing stuff — the milieu, the rivals, the training, etc. — to keep the intended audience for this (tweens) informed when the leads aren’t on the screen.
There’s no point over-selling this, but young Ms. Klenke has a pouty/bratty charm, Hallervorden the proper folksy sadness and Sakraya a pleasant voice-of-common-sense who happens to be the cute guy who wants to “be with” Jana.
The banter with parents and Paul is lightly amusing. Call it kid friendly and “pleasantly unsurprising” and suggest “Rock My Heart” to kids looking for something fun and unchallening to watch, would be my advice.
MPAA Rating: TV-PG
Cast: Lena Klenke, Dieter Hallervorden, Emilio Sakraya, Annette Frier, Michael Lott and Anneke Kim Sarnau
Credits: Directed by Hanno Olderdissen, script by Clemente Fernandez-Gil and Hanno Olderdissen. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:50